Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo might have some problems in 2018. Don’t go booking those Super Bowl tickets yet, Eagles and 49ers fans.
Everyone is talking about Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo—from wide-eyed armchair fans to vociferous pundits in the media.
That heightened level of excitement has created ridiculous expectations for a pair of young, promising quarterbacks who both could be in for a rude awakening in 2018.
One thing is certain: Things will get harder before they get any easier.
Garoppolo, the former heir to Tom Brady’s throne in New England, has the luxury of playing under 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who is the same offensive guru that turned Atlanta Falcons signal caller Matt Ryan from a middle-of-the-pack quarterback into the 2016 NFL MVP.
Shanahan patiently kept his prized quarterback under lock and key before unleashing him on the rest of the unsuspecting league.
The only tape teams had on Garoppolo, besides preseason and garbage time, was the two games he started for the New England Patriots during Brady’s suspension after the whole Deflategate fiasco.
Playing against the 49ers at the end of 2017 was like getting caught in the eye of a Category 5 storm.
Hurricane Jimmy torched some of the best defenses in football, including the Los Angeles Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans. It was the kind of prolific showing that had Patriots fans pondering if the team made the wrong choice in choosing a 40-year-old Brady over Garoppolo, even after an MVP season.
But that talk could quickly die down in 2018 with less mystery behind the former second-round draft pick’s playing style.
NFL defenses will eventually adapt and prey on his weakness. Whether he’s able to make the necessary adjustments on the fly will ultimately determine if he’s the next great quarterback or the next great mistake.
Things have obviously gotten off to a rocky start in minicamp, where the 26-year-old was reportedly “struggling” during practice. Time will tell if those practices were a mere aberration or a sign of things to come.
Meanwhile, Wentz is preparing for a comeback after turning the NFC into his personal playground and leading the Eagles to a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
It was Wentz-a-mania last season in Philadelphia as the Eagles went from a last place NFC East team to a front-running playoff contender.
The second-year quarterback was well on his way to winning MVP and solidifying his newfound superstar status, but his efforts were ultimately derailed after tearing his ACL in Week 14 against the Rams.
Despite his absence, the Eagles still went on to defeat the Patriots at Super Bowl LII with backup quarterback Nick Foles at the helm of the offense.
That magical postseason run has made the Eagles as much Foles’ team as it is Wentz’. It has also complicated any hopes of completely reverting back to the way things were before the knee injury.
Perhaps the most overlooked challenge facing Wentz will be the absence of Frank Reich.
The former Eagles offensive coordinator signed on as the new head coach for the Indianapolis Colts after a year of some of the best offensive play-calling you will ever see.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson gets most of the credit for standing at the forefront of the coaching staff, but Reich also played a significant role in Wentz’ early success, along with the late post-season heroics from Foles.
For anyone skeptical of the impact an elite offensive coordinator can have on a football team, look no further than Shanahan’s job with the Falcons and Ryan.
They were an all-time great offense when he was on the sidelines and quickly reverted back to their mediocre ways the moment he departed for San Francisco.
It might be too much to ask for Wentz to return from an injury with a new offensive coordinator and still compete at an MVP level. Not to mention the looming quarterback controversy.
Foles might be saying all the right things on camera, but he’ll show up at training camp hell-bent on proving he’s the right quarterback to lead the team.
It’s the nature of the business.
That isn’t to say Wentz and Garoppolo can’t live up to or even exceed expectations, but the immense hype also sets them up for serious excoriation if they struggle to get the job done this season.
Garoppolo earned a whopping $137.5 million contract and cracked the top-100 best players in the NFL list after playing in only five full games in 2017.
“Not yet, not yet,” Jaguars All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey said during a recent appearance on the NFL Network, when talking about Garoppolo’s Top100 eligibility. “What he play — five games? He has good potential. I think he’ll be a good player, but off my experience in playing him, it was a lot of scheme stuff. It wasn’t like he was just dicing us up. It was a lot of scheme stuff.”
Wentz came in at No. 3 on the list, ahead of Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger.
“Carson Wentz is rated the second-best quarterback in the NFL—the third-best player in the NFL,” ESPN’s Will Cain said, during a segment on First Take. “Did Carson Wentz finish the season? Did Carson Wentz get the Eagles to the Super Bowl? Did Carson Wentz win the Super Bowl?”
There will be nothing short of Super Bowl expectations when Wentz and the Eagles take the field in 2018. As for Garoppolo and the 49ers, it would be a major disappointment if they missed the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season.
A pair of monumental feats riding on the success of two young quarterbacks. What could possibly go wrong?